Shaping debate on religion in public life.

Evidence of the value of spiritual capital

An alignment of an individual’s deepest beliefs, work and daily interactions not only contributes to overall wellbeing and happiness but also makes good economic sense.

The idea of spiritual capital is that every ‘what’ (i.e. our actions in public life) is shaped and energised by a ‘why’ (i.e. our often deeply-held beliefs, values and attitudes)

There is burgeoning evidence that demonstrates why spiritual capital benefits workplaces and individual wellbeing. An alignment of an individual’s deepest beliefs, work and daily interactions not only contributes to overall wellbeing and happiness but also makes good economic sense. When preventative and like-for-like costings are factored in, faith-based action has been shown to bear down on economic costs in many communities and workplaces. For example, the North-West Regional Development Agency calculated that the professional goods and services, building resources and voluntary work provided by faith groups in the North-West region contributed £90.7- 94 million a year to the regional economy.

More recently, the 2012 National Church and Social Action Survey shows that 98 million volunteering hours a year come from churchgoers alone. According to the 2014 National Church and Social Action Survey, church-based volunteer and staff time, along with their supporting facilities and infrastructure, are worth £3.5 billion to regional economies. In the Northwest, where the William Temple Foundation is based, the economic contribution of the faith sector alone in Cheshire West and Chester’s Better Together programme is estimated at £3 million. This value added comes about because the inner motivations of the individuals involved are aligned with the public arenas of social care, welfare provision and lobbying for the most marginalised in our society.

 

These examples might be church-specific, but they apply across faith and non-faith sectors. Ultimately, a healthy balance of inner meaning and outward engagement boosts individual and group morale. At workplaces, employees who feel that their deepest beliefs and values are aligned with their job and employer are less likely to burn out, take sick days or resign. In fact, they are likelier to work more passionately, creatively, ethically and productively. The Black Review, 2008 – the key reference document for the sector – showed £30 billion of payroll for which no work was received due to sickness absence and a corresponding £70 billion cost falling on the taxpayer. In contrast, happy workers average 12 percent higher productivity, according to a Warwick University study in 2014. In contrast the same study found that productivity decreased by 10 per cent if they were unhappy.

Research from the early 2000s also shows that when positive beliefs and attitudes are promoted in workplaces, this results in high employee engagement. This link between beliefs, values and employee engagement can therefore enhance overall performance at the workplace. Not only are engaged employees 87 per cent less likely to leave but they are 38 per cent more productive and 27 per cent more profitable. Just a 10 per cent increase in engagement can lead to a six per cent increase in discretionary effort and two per cent increase in productivity.

 

Read more research by the William Temple Foundation on spiritual capital >>